Getting To Beijing
Beijing’s International Capital Airport, located 18 miles northeast of the city, was only opened in 1999, but is already being upgraded to handle 60 million passengers a year in anticipation of the forthcoming Olympics. The airport is served by direct flights from major capitals around the world, along with almost every city with an airport in China.
There are two terminals, a domestic (2) and an international (1), although a few internal flights operate from the latter. In the airport you’ll find bureaux de change, ATMs and a few expensive restaurants and snack bars (including a Starbucks in terminal 1 – a prelude of the China to come). If you’ve got a lot of luggage, there are red-capped porters on hand to help with your bags – this is a free service but they’re not averse to a tip.
Getting into Town
To get into town from the airport a taxi should cost between ¥80 and ¥100 (including ¥10 toll) and will take around 45 minutes, longer in rush hour. Unless you want to get taken for a ride, don’t use any of the touts who might try to lure you into a taxi – head straight for the official line outside arrival gates 5 to 9.
There are also airport buses that cost ¥16 and run from until the last domestic arrival, but for departures the last buses leave the city around . Four routes operate from outside arrival gates 11-13 and, of these, lines #2 and #3 are of most use:
- Line #2 runs to the Xichang’an Jie CAAC Office via the SAS Hotel, Asian Games Village, Friendship Hotel and the Shangri-La.
- Line #3 runs to Beijing Train Station via the Third Ringroad, Lufthansa Center, Kunlun Hotel, Great Wall Sheraton Hotel, Dongzhimen subway, Swissotel, Chaoyangmen subway & Beijing International Hotel.
You can buy flight tickets through travel agents in most hotels and at the airport. Check out City Weekend, that’s Beijing or see the websites listed on p. 87 if you want to find airline offices in Beijing.
Destination, frequencies and durations are as follows:
Chongqing (13 daily; 2 hrs 20 mins), Guangzhou (23 daily; 2 hrs 45 mins), Guilin (5 daily 3 hrs), Hangzhou (20 daily; 1 hr 50 mins), Hong Kong (38 daily; 3 hrs 40 mins), Huangshan (1 daily; 2 hrs), Shanghai (45 daily; 2 hrs), Shenzhen (20 daily; 3 hrs), Yichang (2 daily; 2 hrs). Xi’an (17 daily; 1½-2 hrs).
Beijing is linked to the rest of China (including Hong Kong) by rail and is also the terminus for the Trans-Mongolian and epic Trans-Siberian Expresses. Beijing has several train stations, but most destinations in this guide are served by its two principal stations, Beijing Station and Beijing West Station (Xi Zhan).
Generally speaking, trains to the south and west use BeijingWest, while the north and east are served by Beijing Station, although there are exceptions to this. Beijing Station is fairly centrally located, a couple of miles east of Tian’anmen Square, while Beijing West lies farther out in the west of the city on Lianhuachi Dong Lu.
Beijing Station is perpetually busy, but easy enough to navigate – the main ticket offices are beyond the KFC on the right of the station as you look at it, but you’ll find far shorter lines at the designated foreigner kiosk, number 26, which is just to the right of the waiting hall entrance.
Beijing West Station is a far grander construction, the biggest in Asia, but is well laid-out and easy enough to negotiate; buying tickets isn’t too traumatic, although lines can be lengthy. To avoid this, simply buy a ticket through your hotel for an extra ¥25 to ¥50 fee. The new Tibet Railway operates from Beijing West, with daily departures at , which arrive in Lhasa two days later.
To go to Lhasa, you’ll need a Tibet travel permit, which travel agents can help arrange.
Getting into Town
Both stations have luggage facilities, snack shops and canteens, as well as bus depots and taxis that can get you to your hotel – Beijing Train Station is also connected by subway, while bus #1 runs from Beijing West along Chang’an Jie and #52 heads to Tian’anmen Square. If you take a taxi, make sure you use the official ranks at the stations to avoid being overcharged.
Although lines can seem long, they tend to move fairly quickly and the attendants will make sure the driver uses the meter and knows where you want to go.
Destinations, frequencies & durations:
Chengde (6 daily; 4 hrs), Chongqing (2 daily; 25-32 hrs), Guangzhou (2 daily; 22 hrs 20 mins), Guilin (3 daily; 22-27 hrs), Hangzhou (3 daily; 11-22 hrs), Hong Kong (every other day; 24 hrs 25 mins), Huangshan (1 daily; 19 hrs 30 mins), Lhasa (1 daily; 47 hrs 30 mins); Shanghai (9 daily; 12-22 hrs), Shenzhen (2 daily; 23 hrs 30 min-29 hrs), Suzhou (2 daily; 12-21 hrs).
There are numerous bus stations dotted around the capital, serving every place from the Great Wall to Hainan Island, China’s most southern extremity, but train or plane is a better bet for all destinations outside of this chapter (see Getting Around for buses to destinations around Beijing). Chengde (hourly, 4 hrs) is served from Deshengmen Bus Station, which is north of the city on the second ringroad, and can bereached by bus #55 or from Jishuitan subway station.
Getting around Beijing
The Forbidden City
The Temple of Heaven
The Summer Palace
Tian’anmen Square and Hutong
Jingshan Park, Shichahai, & Tibetan Lama Temple
Other places of interest in Beijing
Around Beijing : The Ming Tombs
The Great Wall
, Great Wall pictures
The Western Hills
Zhoukoudian & Peking Man Site
The Qing Tombs
Chengde , Bishu Shanzhuang
Shopping in Beijing
Beijing Opera, Shows, and Nightlife
Beijing Travel Guide homepage
China Travel guide homepage